Lions eat suspected rhino poachers on game reserve

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In a stunning instance of the animal kingdom taking karma into its own hands - or rather, paws - at least three poachers were mauled to death and then eaten by lions earlier this week after they illegally entered the Sibuya Game Reserve in South Africa to hunt rhinos.

Three white rhinos were killed by poachers at Sibuya in June 2016, and three rhinos were killed in May at the nearby Port Alfred Nature Reserves.

"As it was already dark, it was not possible to investigate the area until first light, at which time we arranged for our vet to dart the entire pride of lions so that police forensic teams assisted by our anti-poaching unit could comb the immediate area for clues", he explained. The lions had been heard making a commotion in the early hours of Monday.

"I think we had a stroke of luck here that the lions got to them before they got to the rhinos", Fox told AFP.

Along with bones and bloodied body parts, staff found a hunting rifle, an axe, wire cutters and food supplies, according to The Herald Live.

Police declined to speculate if those killed were in fact poachers, but the recovered weapons were sent for testing to establish if they had been used in any other known poaching crimes, according to the Herald Live.

Owner of the reserve, Nick Fox, 60, said: "We found enough body parts and three pairs of empty shoes which suggest to us that the lions ate at least three of them but it is thick bush and there could be more". He added that "they were clearly intent on killing rhinos and cutting off their horns".

Staff at the Sibuya Game Reserve, in Eastern Province, South Africa, called in a helicopter to search the area for more poachers.

Captain Mali Govender, a police spokesperson, revealed that detectives are investigating the incident to determine exactly how many people were eaten.

Poachers have broken into the popular 30-square-mile reserve in the Eastern Cape before.

Nine rhinos were killed by illegal hunters in the Eastern Cape this year alone.

His plans to get Cecil's head mounted for his trophy room ended when one of Palmer's guides surrendered the lion's remains to officials in Africa.